Ancient History

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Mrs. Teacher

I am Ryley’s kindergarten class mom. Right now I am in the midst of planning the class Halloween party. It is going well–I will not be baking anything. I am leaving that task up to the mom who volunteered to provide cupcakes for the party because it falls on the same day as her son’s birthday. I dodged that sprinkle-covered bullet!

Over the weekend I emailed Ryley’s teacher to give an update on where the preparations stand and to ask if dry ice in the punch would be a good idea. I was afraid of the mess and making a roomful of 5 and 6 year-olds crazy-scared of smoking, foggy fruit punch. I got her reply this morning. She seemed to think it would be fun. And she signed the email “Sally”. Her first name.

For some bizarre reason, I cannot bring myself to call my kids’ teachers or any of my former teachers by their first names. When I wrote Ryley’s teacher, I typed “Dear Mrs. Smith”. If I ran into one of my former teachers at the store, I would be incapable of calling them “Bill” or “Mary”. They are forever “Mr. Larsen” or “Ms. Felix”.

I have a separate problem with the kids’ doctor–he is known around our house as “Dr. Bones”, after Richard Scarry’s doctor character, a dog, who is found in many of his books and stories. Whenever the kids have an appointment for a checkup or an illness, we tell them they are going to see “Dr. Bones”. I feel guilty, because I think the kids actually believe that the pediatrician is named “Dr. Bones”. It is part of the language of our family, like a secret password or part of a private dictionary. In that way, I like our “Dr. Bones” tradition, but I do want my kids to realize that not every doctor on the planet is named “Dr. Bones”.

When we refer to our adult friends with our kids, we call them “Miss Jennifer” or “Mr. Bob”. All of my friends do the same thing with their kids. I believe it could be a regional way of addressing adults. To me, it sounds a bit Southern. As in “fetch Miss Jennifer some sweet tea, honey-pie!” It falls somewhere between the formal “Mrs. Jones” and the disrespectful “hey, lady!”

Back to the issue with addressing Ryley’s teacher–I have not replied to her email yet because my fingertips trembled as my brain told them to type “Sally”. It is very sad, actually. Here I am, still trying to be the teacher’s pet many, many years after leaving school. I will most likely manage to type “Sally” when I write her back with my pledge to track down dry ice and a punch bowl. But I will feel odd doing it and I will anticipate her reply to contain instructions to proceed to the principal’s office immediately.

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